The most important aspect of business success is leadership. Peak performance depends on it. Leaders set the direction and then help everyone head in the same direction.
I often run into leaders who are trying to do it all. They usually tell me that no one can do it as well as they can so they figure it is better to just do it themselves. This is a significant problem, because there is no way to grow the company without leveraging their skills. Eventually they become the roadblock to future success because one person can only make so many decisions and solve so many problems. Nothing of any great significance is ever accomplished by one person alone. It always takes others to help create success.
Directly out of college I started working for one of the brothers in a growing company. A year after I started, the brother decided to sell his share in the company and retire. I took over as COO and during that time I worked for the younger brother; that is when I learned about poor leadership. This younger brother treated everyone in a negative manner. I was eventually asked to do something I considered unethical with the employees and I declined and decided it was time for me to move on. My philosophy was that our employees were assets and as such should be treated as assets, and this philosophy was at odds with the owner of this company. I wanted to treat people with respect and kindness while at the same time holding them accountable to their roles and responsibilities, and I believed this could be done in a positive manner.
- Organizational Structure: The organizational structure needs to be outlined and understood by everyone in order to create consistent chain of authority and eliminate confusion. Leaders need to make sure they are getting the right people in the right seats to scale their business. Every organization needs a structure to help determine how decisions will be made and to whom staff and employees report to. It should be remembered that a leaders role is to set vision and direction and to help their staff and employees be successful.
- Management and Employee Development Plan: All leaders need to have a management and employee development plan in order to bring others up through the organization who can take over key positions as the organization grows. Think of your business like a sports team. Typically in sports the “A” players are on the field until something goes wrong and the team needs to bring someone off the bench to take their place. If there is no one on the bench, it will be nearly impossible for the team to win. It is the same in business: You need to have a bench to draw upon if someone decides to leave or gets sick and can no longer fill their role. This requires planning ahead.
- Management Succession Plan: Every business should have discussed and put in place a management succession plan. Who will move up within the organization should the leader decide to retire or move on? Succession planning typically happens in one of four places—the dining room table, the boardroom, the hospital room, or the funeral parlor. The last two are not good options. Organizations need to think about succession before it is time to sell the business and also in case something should happen to ownership. Any type of succession plan takes time, and waiting until a crisis happens is not a plan.
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